Knitting The Threads From Which I Hang

Friday Gerry had his monthly Zometa drip – always an exciting Friday – they’re moving next month’s up so that he’ll have it before the 4th of July. Plans are good, I’ll take plans.

He hadn’t felt very good all week – tired and achy – we think he may be fighting off a cold. At the doctor’s office they discovered he had a fever, and that he was a bit dehydrated, so in addition to the Zometa they also gave him some fluids intravenously to pep him up a bit.

I was struck by how unexpectedly serious such a seemingly minor thing would be.

The extra drip was going to take about an hour, the kids would be home from school in 20 minutes, so I drove home to pick them up, then drove back to Maplewood to get Gerry.

I finally experienced the joy that is St. Paul rush hour. Twice. My, you folks DO start your rush hour early out here, huh?

So many things about this situation are hard. One of the hardest was the heart-to-heart I had with the kids in the car on the way back out to pick up Gerry. We had mentioned the word Cancer – Max heard it – but Hannah was surprised to hear me use it in the car. We discussed the cancer, what the treatment would be, and the kids were terribly upset that Gerry may have to be away in Rochester for a while.

I didn’t even go to the next place. One step at a time.

This is hard. That seems to be such a self-evident statement, that I feel silly saying it. And – more self-evidence – it’s much harder for Gerry than it is for anyone else.

Friend In College Sez: “Annie Modesitt, Mistress of the Obvious.”

Yes, it’s hard for me, hard for the kids, but hardest for G. I never want to lose sight of that. It’s easy to get very “me” centered – how does this affect ME? – but that’s a little whiny when the issue is so much more serious for Gerry.

Me having an emotional meltdown does not make the situation easier for Gerry, which is why I tend to have them far away, usually in the car, away from the kids. There are a few friends I feel that I can melt in front of – and I do – but not as many as I had back in NJ and I miss that greatly.

It takes time to develop the kind of friendship that allows you to be a slobbering, snotty-nosed, weepy, red-faced lump and not lose your dignity. Not that I don’t do that in my classes, but that’s performance art.

Sadly, yesterday that happened in public (at the public library, to be exact…) and I lost control. I hate that. I feel like I’m just hanging by a thread many days, which is not a comfortable position to be in. It makes me do mad, crazy things like ending sentences with a preposition.

But there are so many good things (and always the option of a nice, long walk – Atticus loves that) that can break up the impending storm. The seriousness of our situation becomes very real at the oddest moments, sparked by innocent little things that a few months ago would have been a minor annoyance or even a joke. Now they bear a lot more weight – I bear a lot more weight – and I’m not just talking about how tight my shorts are fitting these days.

Aunt Lorraine Sez: “Oh, Annett-y, do you always have to act-afool?”
“Yes. Yes I do.” Now get back in the box.

Yesterday, after trimming the hedges (my first time!) and doing some yard work with Maxie, I took the kids off to Comotown to give Gerry a little rest after his big day. He’s been admonished to KEEP HIS FEET UP (which he won’t do) because he’s having swelling again from the Zometa and steroids.

We had a great time – they rode the rides and Hannah made an appearance in a magic/comedy show while I knitted a tremendously beautiful piece of fabric from Tilli Tomas yarns (it’s going to be a turban – ooooh! – very Norma Desmond! – I’m excited about the construction of this piece.)

Then we went to the grocery store and stocked up on stuff. Always more stuff. I lost my cell phone, I found my cell phone. It was in the pocket of my bag, where it belongs, and where I found it after sending Hannah out to the car – then going out there myself.

Have I mentioned my mind is taking little vacations without pre-approved consent?

We dropped off the groceries at home, picked up library books and tapes, and went off to the library.

Apparently a few weeks (?) ago Max took out 2 movies – a Star Wars movie and Home Alone (?!) and promptly forgot that he had them. That’s our Max. The sweetest boy around, but he has his forgetful moments. Oh, he’s 9, too.

I hadn’t received any overdue email notices on these – I guess they send a notice out a few days before the item is overdue, but no more after that. I knew Start Wars was overdue, but I actually had no clue that Max still had Home Alone out.

I’ve been so distracted (overwhelmed?) with getting Gerry to appointments, Max to Baseball, Hannah to – wherever. Oh, and my writing & design work. The Social Security interview. Digesting the Multiple Myeloma diagnosis & it’s implications, the TNNA trip last week & my teaching.

My Fourth Grade Teacher sez: “Annette Modesitt, you are an EXCUSE-MAKER

As I pulled out my wallet to pay the fine on the first DVD (& I am sure I looked mad as hell – well, I was pretty po’d at Max) I mentioned to the guy that my husband had just been diagnosed with MM – yada yada yada – and it had slipped my notice that we even had these movies. He dispassionately, and a little distastefuly, said, “Oh. That’ll be $10.”

I felt hot and cold and my throat went dry. Uh-oh, I’m on the
verge of losing it…”
popped into my head. I asked if there was a manager and he gave me a business card and said they’d be in “maybe tomorrow…” Okay. So I paid the $10. That’s 2+ weeks allowance, Max.

Then he told me about the OTHER fine on Home Alone that would be $20, and I moved toward that dark, rainy, teary place that is usually only experienced in the privacy of the PT Cruiser.

I said, “Look, is there anyone here today I can talk to – any manager on duty?” He directed me to a woman over at the info desk. I told the kids to wait and walked over to her – I know I looked like a maniac with my red/white face and skull length hair. I waited until she was finished with the woman ahead of me and explained the situation.

Lo and behold – there IS a policy of forgiveness for fines when folks are dealing with this kind of – I’ll just say it – shit. Yay shit!

Of course, I was so close to the edge that any kindness was just the tap I needed to jump/fall. I excused myself and went to the bathroom for a good cry. Damn! This would be a money-saving, ecologically minded bathroom with the hot air hand dryers and no paper towels.

When I emerged – slightly less red – another woman who’d been sitting next to the on-duty manager was waiting outside the bathroom to tell me that they had ‘a lot of folks who abuse the policy’ Really? Can’t imagine.

I had nothing on me that would prove that I’m the spouse of a person fighting a serious disease. We don’t even have the same last name. But I did have my little design sketchbook with notes from our U of M meeting (the sad, scary notes) so I showed them to her. She wasn’t ASKING for any proof – she was very kind – but I felt that I had to show something.

Walking back out to where the kids were – calmly, thank god – waiting for me, the on-duty manager approached me to say, in a sympathetic way, “I know what you’re going through – we just went through that with my brother in law. He just died a few months ago.”

THAT’S always helpful in front of the kids.

I said, sotto voce, “We’re trying not to go there in front of the kids right now…” I think she got it. Unfortunately, the kids got it, too – it was a rotten and rough moment.

We had a very quiet car ride back home. Then Max and I drove back and returned Home Alone. Hannah stayed home so Gerry wouldn’t be alone.

The rest of the evening was taken up with dinner, caterpillars, a big biscuit and a movie – more about all these delights on another day. But the experience at the library kept floating around my head.

I want to go back – I have a book on hold – but I feel way too ashamed of getting so upset while there to return. Maybe I can wear a wig?

The original guys’ attitude is one that I’ve run into before. Not rude, not unfriendly, but sort of quietly shocked that I would expect to skirt the rules. Just who do I think I am? I am not entirely sure some days.

At times life makes some rules seem pointless.

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